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Eliminating Healthcare Disparities One Bright Mind at a Time


BHLI Scholars pictured with Nicholas Tejeda, Market CEO of the Hospitals of Providence (center)

By Montoya Collins, Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute

John W. Bluford III, (Fisk ‘71), President and Founder of the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute (BHLI) believes developing a pipeline of talented, minority undergraduates for leadership roles in healthcare will serve to eliminate healthcare disparities among minority and vulnerable populations over the next several generations.
Welcoming its 7th cohort in 2019, the BHLI has mentored 81 undergraduate scholars from Historically Black Colleges and Universities including Fisk University, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, Lincoln University, Morehouse College, North Carolina Agricultural &Technical University, Spelman College and Tuskegee University.
The Institute based in Kansas City, MO, was established in 2013 and exposes scholars to various facets of healthcare administration while developing their leadership skills to position the talented men and women for life long careers in healthcare leadership.
The BHLI continues to positively impact the field of healthcare. From among the BHLI’s 46 scholars who have earned their undergraduate degrees, 36 of those undergraduates are serving in the field of healthcare or earning related graduate degrees including Raynard Ware (2014 Cohort). Raynard matriculated at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and earned his Master’s Degree in Health Systems Administration from Georgetown University. “The BHLI has positively impacted my life in unimaginable ways,” Raynard explains. “I am thankful for the work that the BHLI has done and will continue to do providing pathways for underrepresented youth into healthcare professions and leadership.” Ware is currently completing an executive residency with the Hospital Corporation of America in Nashville, TN. His advocacy for the BHLI is evident through his activism to lead a philanthropic initiative engaging BHLI alumni and teaching them that giving back is an important characteristic of leadership.
The BHLI has coordinated nearly 60 paid internships across the nation for its scholars. As the scholars enter the healthcare workforce and engage in leadership roles, they will serve to increase the diversity among the C-Suites of healthcare systems.
Alexis Hawks (2013 Cohort) received her undergraduate degree at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University and Master’s Degree in Public Health Administration at the University of Kansas. Alexis is currently working at the University of Kansas – School of Health Professions in the Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science Department; “The BHLI impacted my life in a way I will never forget. I was introduced to people whom I would have never imagined meeting. Because of my experience, I now view healthcare with a new pair of eyes and know what it takes to transform our society,” says Hawks.
Founder and Fisk University alumnus John W. Bluford has over four decades of experience in hospital and health system administration and executive leadership. He is a nationally known healthcare innovator recognized by Modern Healthcare and Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the Most Influential People in Healthcare. Bluford served as Chairman of the American Hospital Association, America’s Essential Hospitals, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, and the Missouri Hospital Association.
The Institute’s program speakers have included Patricia Maryland, Dr. PH, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ascension Healthcare; Ian Morrison, Author, Consultant & Futurist; Bruce Siegel, MD, President and CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals, and leaders from the American Hospital Association including Richard Pollack, President and CEO and Priscilla Ross, Senior Associate Director of Federal Relations. The program continues to host an elite and diverse line up of nationally recognized executive professionals who have positively impacted the healthcare arena across the country while strongly influencing scholar participants.
The BHLI is expanding its national footprint. The Institute now impacts and partners with a host of premier healthcare organizations around the country such as Duke University Hospital (Durham, NC), Hennepin Healthcare (Minneapolis, MN) and Henry Ford Health System (Detroit. MI).
Bluford states, “The Bluford Institute has developed an impressive platform for nurturing and developing talented HBCU scholars for a lifelong career of positively impacting communities of color, as well as providing them the basis for a rewarding career.”

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